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‘Is This P.R.?’ What the Business Roundtable Pledge Really Means to Tech

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In light of a recent pledge by 181 corporate leaders to expand their priorities beyond driving shareholder value, several big technology companies have said they fully support the new standards. But don’t expect a major shift in corporate culture—many of the firms say the agreement doesn’t really change the way they operate.

Earlier this week, the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs for some of the nation’s largest companies, pledged to run their businesses in the interest of all stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, and the surrounding community. The agreement signaled a shift from the more traditional business practice of placing shareholder value above all else.

Leaders from tech companies including Apple, Amazon, Salesforce, Oracle, and Cisco all signed the pledge. And though they are not part of the Business Roundtable, companies like Google, Microsoft, and Intel also say they support the philosophy, and carry it out by doing things like tying employee compensation to specific goals or releasing progress reports on environmental impact or social responsibility.

But the Business Roundtable agreement raised all sorts of new questions about how companies will push the needle forward with the new commitment. For example, will they review all wage practices to ensure fair and balanced pay? Will they agree to stop using offshore bank accounts? Would they tie executive compensation to improvements in their carbon footprint? Might they opt for a product feature that will benefit consumers or society, even if it’s not the best for the company’s bottom line?

Overall: Does this agreement mean businesses promise to begood corporate citizens?

“It really is kind of a wait and see,” says David Larcker, director of the Corporate Governance Research Institute at Stanford University. “Is this P.R., or is this substantive where things are going to change?”

For true change, Larcker said that the change has to start with the board. The board, which likely has to bring other stakeholders like employees to the table, now has to evaluate the company across a broad spectrum of goals versus solely on financial performance. In some cases, that could mean shareholder value would decline as the company invests in other priorities like environmental impact.

“There’s likely to be an economic tradeoff, and everyone needs to be prepared to understand what that is,” Larcker says.

Cisco, which signed the Business Roundtable pledge, suggested the agreement is less about change and more about formalizing commitments to standards that companies may already have in place.

“Cisco and many other companies have been taking action towards balancing the interests of all stakeholders for some time,” said a Cisco spokesperson. “This statement now reflects the way in which our companies do—and should—operate.”

For example, Cisco said it has entire teams dedicated to things like environmental impact and supply chain, and those people’s evaluations, bonuses, and promotions are tied to specific goals.

Intel similarly releases reports on things like employee satisfaction and social impact. It also has linked executive and employee compensation to corporate responsibility since 2008. That includes evaluating environmental impacts and employee diversity factors, the company said.

Following the announcement of the Business Roundtable pledge, Microsoft President Brad Smith took to Twitter in support of the agreement and suggesting that his company has always operated this way.

Along with releasing transparency reports, Microsoft has a board committee responsible for overseeing issues related to environmental sustainability, culture, and the company’s employees among other things. That board works with management to review Microsoft’s policies and performance.

Google, meanwhile, has long touted that it has always managed for the long-term and not for short-term shareholder priorities. This means also prioritizing its users, sticking to its mantra, ”don’t do evil,” and maintaining a culture high-risk, high reward projects, including allowing employees to spend 20% of their time working on creative projects.

“Google is not a conventional company,” reads a letter to shareholders from Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin leading up to the company’s 2004 initial public offering. “We do not intend to become one.”

And though all of these tech companies have committed to running their companies for the betterment of their customers, employees, and the world at large, they haven’t exactly maintained a squeaky clean image.

Google, for example, has been scrutinized for reportedly planning to develop a censored search engine for China, mishandling sexual misconduct allegations, and its dual-class voting structure that gives founders and top executives the ultimate voting power. Similarly, Microsoft has been criticized for an alleged sexist culture that included claims of sexual harassment of female employees. And Cisco was accused of helping the Chinese government run surveillance on its citizens.

So while the belief that shareholder takes priority is clearly dying off, what’s really changing? In Larcker’s words, the commitment is ”worth watching; it’s not revolutionary.”

More must-read stories from Fortune:

A rare tech company where women dominate
—Walmart CEO: VR training helped save lives in the El Paso shooting
—Can Apple afford to make its streaming video service free?
—How to compete with technology in the age of automation
Disney’s streaming service won’t be available on the most popular streaming devices
Catch up with Data Sheet, Fortune‘s daily digest on the business of tech.





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Address GST ambiguity in new policy: Gujarat textile units to ask Centre

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Suggestion for one-nation one-power tariff for the sector was also welcomed during the meeting.Suggestion for one-nation one-power tariff for the sector was also welcomed during the meeting.

In view of upcoming Textile Policy-2020, Gujarat-based textile industry has decided to make presentation before the Union ministry of textile to address the issue of different slabs of good and services tax (GST) on textile value chain.

Currently, different slabs are applicable on raw material, yarn and grey fabric, says Ketan Desai, president of South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce (SGCCI), adding that on raw material, GST is as high as 18%, GST on yarn is 12% and on fabric, it has been kept at 5%.

“Recently, we had a brainstorming session with captains of the textile industry in Gujarat at SGCCI. Nearly 15 different issues related to textile industry was on agenda including that of ambiguity in GST and problems being faced by the textile units in claiming refunds,” said Desai.

Instead of filing returns and refund system, the GST authority should come out with one-time tax scheme to make the taxation simpler for the thousands of textile units not only in Gujarat but across the country, said Gaurang Bhagat, executive committee member of Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI).

Bhagat who is also president of Maskati Cloth Market Mahajan said that instead of subsidies, the government should work on providing electricity at lower rates to textile industry which is the second largest employer after agriculture in the country.

Textile industry also wants easy availability of loans from banks, non-tariff barrier on imported garments, increase in time limit for the textile machinery imported from China under the Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) scheme and increase in capital subsidy. They are also demanding to extend EPCG scheme for textile machinery and inclusion of weaving machinery under Amended Technology Up-gradation Fund Scheme (ATUF). Suggestion for one-nation one-power tariff for the sector was also welcomed during the meeting.

Recently, SGCCI has also made a representation before Gujarat government to reduce stamp duty on mortgage deed at a time of availing loan from banking sector. The Surat-based textile industry has also demanded for Textile Processing Park in the vicinity of the city.



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Asia Tonight: Business news in brief Feb 20

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Business Briefs on Asia Tonight, Feb 20:
– Foxconn has warned of negative revenue impact from COVID-19 outbreak
– Thailand’s January domestic car sales fell 8.2% year-on-year

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10 genius sleep products you can buy on Amazon

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In a perfect world, we spend about one-third of our lives sleeping. In a less-than-ideal scenario, we seem to spend that same amount of time tossing, turning, and counting sheep in hopes of falling asleep. If you lay in bed calculating the hours (or minutes) of ZZZs you’ll get if you fall asleep right now, let these products—delivered to your door in two days with Prime shipping—guide you off to dreamland.

1. A sound machine that relaxes you to sleep

Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sleep Sound Machine

Credit: Adaptive Sound Technologies

Replace unwanted noise with the sound of ocean waves with the Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sleep Sound Machine.

Plenty of people love falling asleep to the hum of a fan or the gentle whirring of the HVAC system. But if those aren’t enough to mask less pleasant nightly noise, such as the clangs of a forced-heat radiator, you’ll love our favorite sound machine. The Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sleep Sound Machine offers 10 sound categories, each with three different “richness” settings that allow you to tweak the sound slightly. It also completely blocks any competing noise. Fall asleep to ocean waves, white noise, or whatever your preference.

Get the Adaptive Sound Technologies Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sleep Sound Machine on Amazon for $75.54

2. An eye mask that’s actually comfortable

Nidra Deep Rest Eye Mask

Credit: Nidra

Keep the light out with the Nidra Deep Rest Eye Mask.

If you’re sensitive to any light seeping into your room, you’ve probably considered wearing an eye mask when you sleep. However, not all sleep masks are created equal, and some are downright aggravating to wear when you’re trying to settle in for the night. We recommend the Nidra Deep Rest Eye Mask, which is like a pair of blackout curtains for your eyes. It’s contoured, so it doesn’t put any pressure on your face and you can even blink comfortably while wearing it.

Get the Nidra Deep Rest Eye Mask on Amazon for $11.95

3. The weighted blanket that celebrities obsess over

BlanQuil Quilted Weighted Blanket

Credit: BlanQuil / Reviewed

Try Kourtney Kardashian’s favorite blanket, the BlanQuil Quilted Weighted Blanket.

Weighted blankets are all the rage these days, but if you tend to run warm, they may be counterproductive to a great night’s sleep. Our reviewer tried the BlanQuil Chill, which celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian endorse on Instagram, and says it’s a perfect solution to this conundrum. The weighted blanket incorporates cooling technology to keep you from overheating but still gives you the gentle pressure that a heavy blanket provides.

Get the BlanQuil Quilted Weighted Blanket on Amazon for $169

4. An alarm clock that eases you awake

Philips Wake-Up Light Therapy Alarm Clock

Credit: Philips

Let the Philips Wake-Up Light Therapy Alarm Clock gently wake you up each morning.

Whether you had a great night’s sleep or not, waking up is never fun. The Philips Wake-Up Light makes your mornings easier by mimicking the sunrise. The clock cycles through 20 brightness settings—beginning at a deep red and finishing on a bright white—in the half-hour before your preset wakeup time to gradually bring you to alertness. You can also choose between five different wake-up sounds or a radio to sound at the alarm, just in case the light hasn’t roused you.

Get the Philips Wake-Up Light Therapy Alarm Clock on Amazon for $99.97

5. A pair of ear plugs that block out the noise

Hearos Xtreme Ear Plugs

Credit: Hearos

Block out your noisy neighbors with the Hearos Xtreme Ear Plugs.

Need total silence to drift into dreamland? You’re in luck because we tested the best earplugs for sleeping. The Hearos Xtreme Ear Plugs won us over because they block out sound without feeling uncomfortable in the ears and they’re easy to reuse and store. They come in packs of 14 pairs, so you can always have them handy.

Get the Hearos Xtreme Ear Plugs on Amazon for $13.35

6. A memory foam pillow that contours to your needs

Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

Credit: Xtreme Comforts

Rest your head easier with our favorite bed pillow, the Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow.

If you can’t remember the last time you bought a new bed pillow, it’s been too long. We recommend the Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow, which comes “overstuffed” with bamboo shredded memory foam that can be removed to customize to your comfort. The pillow molds to your neck and head to help you feel supported throughout the night. It’s also machine-washable because, yes, you need to wash your pillows.

Get the Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow on Amazon for $49.99

7. Unique headphones to soothe you to sleep

Lavince Sleep Headphones

Credit: Lavince

Use the Lavince Sleep Headphones to listen to music, a podcast, or sleep sounds without disturbing your partner.

If total silence isn’t your thing but your partner requires it, here’s your solution. The Lavince Sleep Headphones wrap around your head like a cloth headband and contain speakers that sit over the ears, so you can listen to music or soothing sounds without having earbuds in while you sleep. The wireless headband pairs with any bluetooth-enabled device, such as your phone or computer, so long as the device is within a 45-foot range. The speakers are ultra-thin (but still have good sound quality) so they don’t press into your ear and cause any discomfort, even if you are side sleeper.

Get the Lavince Sleep Headphones on Amazon for $19.99

8. A pregnancy pillow to nest in

Queen Rose Classic U Shaped Pregnancy Pillow

Credit: Queen Rose

Give your back and belly the support it needs with the Queen Rose Classic U Shaped Pregnancy Pillow.

Falling and staying asleep can already be a challenge, but pregnancy—and the body changes that come with it—can exasperate some of the normal sleep troubles you face. If this applies to you, we recommend a pregnancy pillow, like this one from Queen Rose. The U-shaped pillow hugs your body to give you support at your head, belly, and back all at once, and the pillowcase is easy to remove and machine-washable. Some nonpregnant reviewers sing its praises for supporting bad backs and easing arthritis, too.

Get the Queen Rose Classic U Shaped Pregnancy Pillow on Amazon for $39.59

9. A sleep training alarm clock for children

LittleHippo Mella Ready to Rise Children’s Trainer

Credit: LittleHippo

Help your children adjust to a sleep pattern with the LittleHippo Mella Ready to Rise Children’s Trainer.

If your child has trouble staying on a sleep schedule and often wakes you up at the crack of dawn even on weekends, the LittleHippo sleep trainer could be your new best friend. The alarm clock cues kids by glowing yellow a half-hour before wake-up time and glows green when it’s officially time to hop out of bed.

Get the LittleHippo Mella Ready to Rise Children’s Trainer on Amazon for $49.99

10. A neck pillow that lets you sleep anywhere

Huzi Infinity Pillow

Credit: Huzi

Take the Huzi Infinity Pillow for your next travel day.

Yes, it’s possible to get great—OK, good—sleep even when you travel. The Huzi Infinity Pillow, which our tester calls a “game changer,” is super-plush, machine-washable, and provides enough structure that your head isn’t bobbing from side to side with the bumps in the road.

Get the Huzi Infinity Pillow on Amazon for $39.90

The product experts at Reviewed have all your shopping needs covered. Follow Reviewed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest deals, product reviews, and more.

Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.





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